MTPR

Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 8, 2019

Aug 8, 2019

Updated 5:24 p.m., August 8, 2019

Wet thunderstorms expected to sweep western Montana through the weekend could provide wildland firefighters their best reprieve of the season yet.

That includes those attacking the Horsefly Fire east of Lincoln, the Beeskove Fire east of Missoula, and the Snow Creek Fire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Learn more here.

Updated 3:16 p.m.

A public information meeting for the Horsefly Fire will be held on Friday, August 9, 2019, at 7 p.m. It will be held at the Canyon Creek Rural Fire District station located at 7560 Duffy Lane in Canyon Creek.

Updated 2:05 p.m.

The Lolo National Forest says, “fire managers are hoping for 100% containment of the Wagon Mountain Fire by the end of the day [Thursday].”

A release says firefighters had, “another successful day on the Wagon Mountain Fire. Containment is now is at 70%. All of the control line was finished, and hose lay was placed around the fire’s perimeter. No helicopters were utilized in yesterday’s operations.

Multiple partners are working the fire including the Montana Department of Natural Resources, Bitterroot and Nez-Perce Clearwater National Forests, and crews form other districts on the Lolo National Forest. There are 65 people assigned to the fire and it is being managed by a Type 4 Incident Commander. Strategy for managing the fire will be weather dependent.

Get the latest wildfire, fire management and air quality news for Western Montana and the Northern Rockies, on your radio during our morning and evening newscasts, via podcast, or in your inbox each day.

The fire is currently estimated at 17 acres.

Lee Creek Campground is closed for staging of firefighting equipment and overnighting firefighters. There is an area closure in effect around the fire for the protection of firefighting resources and public safety. This will includes closure of the Lee Creek Road #699, Lee Ridge Trail #295, Wagon Mountain Trail #300 and a segment of the historic Lolo Trail #15 (Nez Perce and Lewis and Clark National Historic Trails) from Highway 12 to the Montana/Idaho border. Please see InciWeb (listed below) or the Lolo National Forest website (https://www.fs.usda.gov/lolo/) for the specific closure order and map.

Updated 8:21 a.m.

The Beeskove Fire is now estimated at 429 acres and zero percent containment.

Thunderstorms and lightning predicted for Thursday. Gusty outflow winds may cause erratic fire behavior. Potential for flash floods in flood prone areas under stronger storms on Friday and Saturday.

Scroll down for more information on the Beeskove Fire.

Updated 7:53 a.m.

The latest infrared map of the Snow Creek Fire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness shows it at 1,561 acres.

The fire is expected to continue to spread east through the 2000 Helen Creek Fire burn area, down the Hungry Creek drainage, and upstream on both east and west sides of the South Fork of the Flathead River. Burning conditions will be favorable for the fire to test the previous burn areas in Helen Creek as well as the 2013 Damnation Fire burn area.

Updated 7:37 a.m.

The Horsefly Fire approximately 13 miles east of Lincoln is now estimated at 1,335 acres, and moving in a S/SE direction.

The team fighting the fire says: “Reduced fire behavior will allow direct suppression strategies. Increasing cloud cover should moderate fire behavior with a slight chance of thunderstorms which could bring outflow winds. Potential for active perimeter growth.”

It adds that the 24 hour outlook is: “Trend toward increased cloudiness, reduced wind speed, and cooler temperatures continues. This is anticipated to moderate fire behavior. A slight chance of thunderstorms which could bring outflow winds could aggravate suppression efforts. Greatest chance of significant growth would be under the outflow wind scenario. As the fire moves higher in elevation, it also becomes more exposed to stronger gradient winds. Will continue to assess risk and fire behavior to implement direct fire suppression strategies.

“48 hours: Trend toward increased cloudiness, reduced wind speeds, and cooler temperatures continues. This is anticipated to moderate fire behavior. A slight chance of thunderstorms which could bring outflow winds could aggravate suppression efforts. Chance of precipitation improves. Greatest chance of significant growth would be under the outflow wind scenario. As the fire moves higher in elevation, it also becomes more exposed to stronger gradient winds.

“72 hours: Moisture and lower temperatures foretasted should moderate fire behavior. Continuing cloudy and wet weather conditions will decrease chance of growth significantly.

“Anticipated after 72 hours: Dependent upon rainfall totals.”

Planned activities are: “Night shift will continue structure protection in the Flesher Acres and Flesher Pass areas.

Construct indirect hand and mechanical line from Continental Divide Trail north to Horsefly Creek.

West of the fire, construct direct handline east along fires edge toward Flesher Pass.

South of the fire edge, scout and assess opportunities to engage fire. Utilize dozer to open roads for access.

Continue structure protection and assessment. Continue to improve existing indirect mechanical line from Continental Divide Trail to Canyon Creek”

Updated 7:18 a.m.

Lolo National Forest reports making significant progress on two fires near Lolo Pass.

A press release says: “Cooperative weather and skilled efforts by firefighting resources led to 100% containment on the West Fork Lolo 2 Fire and 60% containment on the Wagon Mountain Fire. Resources will remain on scene throughout the weekend. A significant change to much cooler and wetter weather is forecasted starting Friday. However, Thursday is likely to be one of the hottest days in 2019 with a steadily increasing threat for showers and thunderstorms.”

A handline has been completed around the approximately four acre West Fork Lolo 2 Fire, and firefighters have used water to wet the ground approximately 100 feet within the perimeter.

Both handline and excavator line were used in direct attack on the approximately 15 acre Wagon Mountain Fire Tuesday, along with bucket drops from two Type 1 helicopters. Approximately 5,500 gallons of water were dropped on the fire. Firefighters and an excavator will continue with line construction with continued assistance from one Type 1 helicopter.

Lee Creek Campground is closed for staging of firefighting equipment and overnighting firefighters. An area closure around the fire went into effect Wednesday for the protection of firefighting resources and the public safety. This will include closure of the Lee Creek Road #699, Lee Ridge Trail #295, Wagon Mountain Trail #300 and a segment of the historic Lolo Trail #15 (Nez-Perce and Lewis and Clark National Historic Trails) from Highway 12 to the Montana/Idaho border. Please see InciWeb (listed below) or the Lolo National Forest website (https://www.fs.usda.gov/lolo/) for the specific closure order and map.

The Lolo National Forest press release says, “as you prepare for your weekend, pack what you need to enjoy your campfire safely. Pack a shovel and bucket and make sure you have a source of water to extinguish the flames. Clear the area around your fire pit and do not light fires under branches. Keep your fires small and keep an eye on the weather. Sudden wind gusts can blow sparks into vegetation outside your cleared area, causing unexpected fires. If you see smoke, please report it to the Missoula Interagency Dispatch Center at (406) 829-7070 or 911.

The Lolo National Forest remains in very high fire danger. This year to date there have been 51 wildfires within the Lolo National Forest protection area; 33 human caused, 18 lightning caused. So far, approximately 423 acres have been impacted by wildfire on the Lolo National Forest.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, The Nature Conservancy said it, “has temporality closed some of our land to the public, as a result of the Beeskove Fire. Unless otherwise noted, all trails and roads that are within the boundaries described below and outlined in the attached map are closed to public access due to the fire and associated suppression work.

“These closures are necessary to protect visitors from hazards and accommodate the needs of fire crews.

Our goal is to fully suppress the fire and reopen TNC land to the public as soon as possible.

“We thank everyone for their patience and cooperation.

“For more information on the fire, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6458/ .

Nature Conservancy lands closed due to the Beeskove Fire north of Missoula, August 8, 2019.
Credit inciweb

CLOSURE AREAS:

  • T13N R17W: ALL TNC (aka Montana Checkerboard, LLC) Lands.
  • T14N R17W: ALL TNC (aka Montana Checkerboard, LLC) Lands that lie WEST of the Gold Creek Road #126 north to the junction with West Fork Gold Creek Road #2013, then SOUTHWEST of the West Fork Gold Creek Road #2103.
  • T15N R17W: ALL TNC (aka Montana Checkerboard, LLC) Lands that lie SOUTHWEST of the West Fork Gold Creek Roads #2103 and #4323.
  • AS SHOWN on the attached map.
  • Unless specified, all trails and roads that are within and those that make up the boundaries to this area closure are closed due to the Beeskove fire and its associated suppression work.
  • NOTE THAT there is also a Lolo National Forest Supervisor’s Order for Special Closure on adjacent Lolo NF lands and associated USFS access roads; see Order # 19-029-LOLO-D3.”

Joe Sampson’s Northern Rockies 5 Type 2 Incident Management Team has arrived and assumed management of the Beeskove Fire Wednesday at 9PM.

On Tuesday, the fire made some uphill runs with some single and group tree torching in the fire’s western perimeter due to windy conditions and warm temperatures. Firefighters continued construction on indirect fireline on the south and east sides of the fire. Efforts include fuel removal within the powerline corridor, along the road system west of Johnson Creek and to the northeast in the Gold Creek area.

The Beeskove Fire was estimated at 347 acres Wednesday, and remains zero percent contained.

Fire resources include three Hotshot crews, three Type II crews, six helicopters (three Type 1, two Type 2, and one Type 3), heavy equipment, engines and water tenders. The total personnel currently on the fire is 285.

In addition to the previous closure area, the following areas are now closed due to Beeskove Fire suppression operations:

  • Woody Mountain – Johnson Gulch area is now closed to recreational use.
     
  • Sheep Mountain Trailhead is now closed along with access to the trailhead via East Twin Creek Road FS 2117 and Upper Twin Creek Road FS 2119.
     
  • Mineral Peak Lookout is closed as well as access to the lookout via the East Fork Rattlesnake Road FS 2112 and Mineral Peak Lookout Road 2120.
     
  • Upper Twin Creek/Sheep Mountain Spur Trail #505 is now closed.

Many areas in the Rattlesnake remain open like Sawmill Gulch and the Rattlesnake Wilderness. Additionally, the Woods Gulch trailhead and the Marshall Canyon area remain open. For additional closure information, please contact the Missoula Ranger Station at (406) 329-3814.

The suspect in the human-caused fire at the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park was sentenced Tuesday to three months of jail and $5,000 in restitution, Rachel Cramer with Yellowstone Public Radio News reports.

Curtis J Faustich, a seasonal concessionaire employee in Yellowstone, admitted to starting the North Entrance Fire July 26th when he dropped a lit cigarette on the ground by the picnic table where he was sitting.

Faustich was charged for discarding a lighted material in a hazardous manner and pleaded guilty Tuesday to U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman at the Yellowstone Justice Center in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming.

Yellowstone Spokesperson Linda Veress says in addition to his sentence, Faustich is also prohibited from entering Yellowstone National Park for two years.

“Park law enforcement officers do thank individuals who called the 24-hour tip line and provided timely incident details,” Veress said. “That helps end the investigation as well.”

The North Entrance Fire burned four acres of grass and sage brush before crews managed to contain it the evening the fire started. The North Entrance Road was closed for 90 minutes.

Fire danger in Yellowstone is currently ‘moderate’ and park officials say visitors should take extra precautions to prevent wildfires.

Get the latest wildfire, fire management and air quality news for Western Montana and the Northern Rockies, on your radio during our morning and evening newscasts, via podcast, or in your inbox each day.